Miniature in the Mail #38: "Over the Wall"

"Over the Wall," 5x5in., oil on masonite
I'm fascinated by walls. Walls are hard lines, selectively filtered, that define nations, segregate neighbourhoods, and offset private from public property. They're states of mind that generate in us a sense of security or that we're on the right side of the divide between wilderness and civilization. They're even epistemological, determining our culturally relative "personal space" (interior) from the acceptable space of others (exterior), for example. 

They can be as visible as the ubiquitous cinder-block walls in Southern California which prevent me from gawking into backyards, or as invisible as the manicured edge of grass which runs along the sidewalk, aping the golf course, telling me to stay off and to take the full corner rather than cut it.

They can be real or fictitious as self-imposed barriers.

And they go way back, probably to the invention of language and class, the settlement of humans in non-nomadic communities.

But they're anything but natural. Instead, they challenge, taunt, and provoke. They call out to be conquered, and their scaling is a form of osmosis that restores natural equilibria and re-flattens.

The mini painting here shows one severe wall with a sly bougainvillea creeping over it. I came across it in San Diego, a stone's throw from the Mexican border.

For more on it and paintings like it, see